This weekend was make or break for Boston College volleyball. Coming off of a six-game losing streak on the road, the Eagles’ only hope to salvage their season was to start their four-game homestand out with two dominating wins. This is exactly what BC was able to do.
On Sunday, the Eagles (5-11, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) captured their first shutout win of the season by defeating Clemson, 3-0.
The first set started out relatively uneasy for both teams, with neither side really taking control. Strong kills from Cat Balido and Sol Calvete changed the momentum for BC as the team settled into a rhythm that would last until a Clemson (5-13, 0-6) timeout midway through the set gave the Tigers a chance to catch their collective breath.
After this timeout, they stole the lead back from the Eagles and eventually tied it up at 18. For the rest of the set, every time that the Eagles would pull ahead by a point, the Tigers would again tie it up. This pattern lasted until back-to-back kills by Lynn Braakhuis and Calvete gave BC the first set 26-24.
The second set was marked by long and competitive rallies. Earlier in the season, this might have overwhelmed BC, but in this game, the Eagles showed resilience and created a sizable lead. A lot of this lead was built on the back of Braakhuis.
The graduate student led both teams with 13 kills over the course of the game. Stats alone can’t fully describe Braakhuis impact though, as the power behind each hit could be felt throughout the Power Gym. Most kills by Braakhuis came slamming to the floor as no Tiger could reach it in time. When contact was made, the velocity of the hit caused the ball to whiz off of the Tiger player and rebound off of the back wall of the gym.
Behind the power of Braakhuis, BC pulled ahead to build a 23-10 lead. Then, an ace by Balido gave the Eagles a chance to win the second set. A kill by BC slipped through the ready hands of a Clemson block and slammed down to the hardwood floor the point to cap off a dominating 25-10 second set win.
Going into the third set, the Eagles had the chance to sweep the match—a feat that they had yet to accomplish this season. The set started off with both teams going back and forth with neither able to establish true momentum. Impressive kills from Balido and Goss alongside two aces from Braakhuis helped the Eagles rediscover their rhythm from the second set.
Another Goss kill and several Clemson errors brought the score to 17-7. BC only allowed five more points in the rest of the match as it went on to sweep the match by winning the third and final set, 25-12.
Earlier in the weekend against Georgia Tech, the Eagles captured their first win since their Sep. 9 defeat of Delaware. Their six-set skid was extended to seven after BC lost a tight first set, 25-21. In the second set, however, the Eagles took control as they exploded with a 15-3 run against the Rambling Heard.
The third set proved more of a challenge as both teams had finally found their rhythm. The lead constantly oscillated between the two teams and, midway through the game, the two teams found themselves tied at 16. It was at this point that the Eagles permanently regained momentum as they proceeded to go on a 9-1 run that secured the third set.
Going into the fourth set, the Eagles had the chance to take the game and break their losing streak. The fourth game followed the same pattern as the third set with BC and Georgia Tech going back and forth for much of the set, although BC maintained the lead throughout. Two late kills from Calvete sealed the win for BC as the Eagles went on to take the fourth set 25-20 and with it the match.
While promising, the two wins this weekend for the Eagles leave many more questions than answers. All of the Eagles wins so far this season have come either at home or on neutral territory. While this bodes well for the coming two games—both of which are at home—it casts the weekend’s two wins into some doubt. Has the team really come into its own and found its rhythm or was the comfort of playing at home the real reason the Eagles were so dominant?
Earlier in the season, it seemed as if they had found their stride with a win against Delaware in neutral territory. BC soon fell apart again and didn’t secure a win for nearly four weeks.
Only time will tell if history is repeating itself or if the Eagles really have found long-term success. Head coach Chris Campbell is confident that the Eagles have finally discovered the way to win consistently.
“We have emphasized right from the beginning of the season that this is a process of continuing to improve and you don’t get there in one set and you gradually build,” Campbell said after the win. “We kind of knew that this was going to happen at some point. That this was going to come together and it happened to be this weekend at home and in front of home fans and that feels great.”
Featured Image by Sam Zhai / Heights Staff